Peter Hoskin

White collar jobs for white collar workers

White collar jobs for white collar workers
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A fascinating double page spread in today's Times, setting out the Government's plans to get help unemployed white-collar workers get back into work.  Apparently, ministers are worried that job centres just won't be able to deal with the swathe of former bankers, solicitors and accountants that will be passing through their doors, and the idea is to introduce new, 12-week courses so that these people can "refresh their skills".  It's a striking sign of where we're at.  Catering for the C2s may no longer mean promising lower taxes or, say, improved education for their children, as it did in 1997.  It may simply mean safeguarding their jobs, or maintaining their employability.

But will it work?  I, for one, have my doubts.  The track record with these kinds of schemes is that they're costly and - particularly in the case of the already well-qualified - may not make the attendees all that much more employable.  The government will cast this as them doing "everything they can".  But I worry that this could come at the cost of help for less well-off people, who generally come off worse in the long-run during a downturn.  Beyond some notable exceptions - including Nick Clegg, Frank Field and Jon Cruddas - there's too little being said about low-income groups.

P.S. News in after I typed this out on the Tube: unemployment has hit 1.97 million, a 12-year high.